Jersey Reds complete their schedule of pre-season matches ahead of the 2018/19 campaign with a home encounter against National 1 opponents Old Elthamians.
The south-east London side finished sixth in English rugby’s third tier last season and have set their sights on a move up the rankings after a busy summer that has seen 12 new signings join their squad.
It will be a double-header at Stade Santander International, with OEs also bringing their 2nd XV, who will take on Jersey Reds Athletic in the first Zoo Shield match of 2018/19. The curtain-raiser is at 12noon, with the 1st XVs kicking off at 3pm.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon rings the changes to his 1st XV squad as part of his intention of offering opportunities for all players to impress before the Reds start their league programme away to newly-promoted Coventry on September 1st.
With captain Roy Godfrey on the bench, flanker Conor Joyce will lead out the Reds, for whom Aaron Penberthy will make his first appearance after rejoining the club this summer. The fly-half was hospitalised in June after complications following appendicitis, but has worked his way back to fitness and will partner Zimbabwean international Hilton Mudariki in the half-backs.
Making their first starts for Jersey after featuring as replacements in earlier matches will be props Harry Morley and Sam Rodman, and centre Koch Marx.
The Reds began pre-season with a 27-17 win over French Pro D2 side RC Vannes before taking on Aviva Premiership side Harlequins last Saturday – the game was level at 14-all after 50 minutes, but the top-flight opponents raised the tempo and eventually won 14-33. The Reds had another encounter with Premiership players on Tuesday, with a contested session against Gloucester as part of the Cherry-and-Whites’ pre-season tour.
Biljon said he expected a good test for his players.
“Elthamians are a club who’ve made massive strides in the last few years and they are clearly ambitious to play at a higher level than National One,” he said. “You can see that in the way they’ve recruited, with a lot of quality players.
“I anticipate they’ll be well-organised, well-prepared and well-drilled and expect them to provide a real test for our squad, who’ll be at the end of a week which has featured two encounters with Premiership opponents. It will be a real test of our players’ mental and physical toughness, and they’ll be up against a side who I’m sure will want to show they can compete with a Championship side.”
Biljon added: “I’m really pleased that Elthamians will be travelling in numbers and playing against our Athletic XV prior to the 1st team game. It should be a terrific opportunity for supporters to see rugby from both the Reds’ pro and amateur teams on the same day and a great club day.”
Tickets are available from the Eventbrite site or on the day and cost just £5, covering both matches. There’ll be BBQ lunches available for £10, and a mini-beer festival featuring a range of ales and ciders.
The Reds’ online programme for this game will be available in the run-up to kick-off – keep an eye on social media for the details.
The OE preview to the game can be accessed HERE
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Old Elthamians (H) – 2018/19 pre-season match, Saturday August 18th, Stade Santander International, k-o 3pm
Conor Joyce (capt)
Charlie Maddison, Roy Godfrey, Alec Clarey, Dave McKern, Rory Bartle, Graham Geldenhuys; Will Homer, Brett Herron, George Eastwell, Apakuki Ma’afu, Auguy Slowik, Leroy Van Dam.